Monday, December 31, 2012

At Year's End

I usually run through a list of predictions for the preceding year and make a new one for the following year. I will do neither this year, but you may check the link and score me on last year's predictions if you so desire. The year has ended on a profoundly sour note due to health issues, so I am not interested in looking back.

Here is to whatever 2013 brings. Let it be a surprise, pleasant or not.

Top 5 0f 1202 #1--Kaley Cuoco

The Big Bang Beauty remains the top celebrity draw at The Eye for the third year running.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top 5 of 2012 #2--Karen Gillan

Now that Amy Pond has left the TARDIS, Karen Gillan has slipped in popularity at The Eye, but during the first half of Doctor Who's seventh series, she was a main attraction.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Red Dwarf--"The Beginning"

“The Beginning” ends the rather uneven tenth series of Red Dwarf on a high note. The plot revisit’s the old standard of Rimmer never being able to please his overbearing father no matter what he does with the twist of finally letting him come out on top for once.

A strange cyborg arrives on Red Dwarf seeking revenge on Lister for the death of his brother. The cyborg agrees to a cook off instead of murder with the prize being a map he stole from Simulants. Right on cue, the Simulants attack, forcing the crew to retreat and Rimmer to face past humiliation inflicted on him by his father in orer to save the Dwarfers.

There are many good scenes in “The Beginning:” the cyborg plugging a hull breach with his butt, the Dwarfers arguing over who will have the best death, and Cat playing with string while psychoanalyzing Rimmer among them. The climactic action sequence with all its CGI is incredibly well done. Cat finally has something important to do as he serves as the kick in the pants Rimmer nees to get himself together. The result is a welcome change for Rimmer.

As I sai above, the uneven series ten on a high note. I am uncertain there will be a series eleven, but I would like to see more Red Dwarf, particularly if Rimmer’s newfound confidence remains. We shall see.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Top 5 of 2012 #3--Sarah Shahi

New episodes of Fairly Legal bring many Sarah Shahi fans to The Eye.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Red Dwarf--"Dear Dave"

You may recall writin a review for the previous Red Dwarf episode was the last thing I did before being overwhelmed with pain an nausea and headed to the hospital for emergency surgery. That was eight weeks an a day ago. Now, we are back to a rather depressing installment of the show. Yeesh. Like I need that right now.

While Lister is in the midst of a deep depression over the loss of the human race, he receives a letter from his girlfriend three million years too late claiming he may be the father of her child. Lister’s memories of the girl and the possibility he may have had a child grow up with him are hanle in a highly bittersweet manner for Red Dwarf Meanwhile, Rimmer receives word he is to be demoted for missing three million years of work and schemes for a medical excuse, which he gets when he sees Lister apparently making love to a vending machine. I kideth thee not.

The laughs are few nd far between with “Dear Dave.” The episode suffers from a recurring problem this series--joke sequences stretch on too long. In this case, it is a game a charades acted out by Cat. Danny John-Jules hams it up the best he can, but its stretching. He has been terribly underutilized this series. Really, has Cat told any jokes that could not have been said by another character? For the most patt, he shows up, tells a joke, and leaves. Very disappointing.

Disappointin is a good word to describe “dear Dave” in general. There are some funny bits, but not enough to overcome the unexpected melancholy. There are two few episodes in a six episode series to hide such a dud.

Rating: ** (out of 5)

Top 5 of 2012 #5--Olivia Wilde

House reruns and a budding movie career brought in a steady stream of Olivia Wilde fans throughout the year. She is not my cup of tea, but whatever floats your boat is all right with me.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Doctor Who--"The Snowmen"

We are a day late, but not a poun short with the review for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, “The Snowmen.” I actually watch the episode last night, but lacked the juice to writer a review. Good thing, too. It afforded me a second viewing today and a slight change of opinion.

“The Snowmen” feels much like a reboot. Not only is there a new TARDIS design and companion, but the doctor himself has changed. He is livin in 1892 London mostly alone. He treats his sontarian and silerian allies more as servants than friends. Some time has passed since he lost Amy, rory, and, if the series six DVD extras are canon, River. He spends much of the episode avoiding Clara Oswin Oswald, who he does not recognize by appearance from the first time they met, but thery grow closer together until she is mortally wounded by The Snowmen.

What I have just summarized is the heart of “The Snowmen.” The villain, Dr. Simeon and his great Intelligence and telepathic Snowmen are standard fare for this show. Some of the CGI work is impressive, but the villains are ultimately forgettable. The problem, methinks, is steven Moffat wanted a Lovecraft homage, but could not quite pull it off. As a Lovecraft, I may be hypercritical here. Your mileage may vary.

While I may be down on the action, I am not down on ’The Snowmen” as a whole. While the pacing drags at times, I liked the building relationship between clara and the Doctor, particularly his joy at the en when he realizes she could not possibility have died twice and goes searching or her. It has often bugged me how quickly the Doctor will hook up with certain companions while leaving scores of other people behind. Clara is something refreshingly different.

The new TARDIS interior is smooth. I am not big on the technical aspects of these things. You may be more excited over it.

“The Snowmen” is good, but not great. The BBC does period pieces beautifully. And Victorian London is wonderfully recreated. Clara and and the doctor steal the show. Jenna-Louise Coleman is going to make a great companion. The self-titled villains are the weakest link, but they are not detrimental enough to drag down the while episode.

Rating: *** (out of 5)

Friday, December 21, 2012

What I Have Learned About Healthy Weight Gain

Hello to anyone who is still checking in. I appreciate any of you who still do. Hope the cricket chirping is not terribly annoying. The pace is about to pick up soon. I have little choice but to et out of bed or else these days. Sitting up at the computer is about the only activity I have the energy to do, so that is it by defeat. I am enormously frustrated with politics and have not watched a lick of television since the grisly school shooting last week, so Lord knows what I will write about.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I was hospitalized again for six days to be treated for dehydration and a potassium deficiency. Apparently, losing nutrients effects people in different ways. I lose potassium as I grow weaker. By grow weaker, I am trying to avoid the word barf for the sake of polite company. There is also a peculiar notion that if one is having trouble eating, hospital food is the way to go. Figure that one out. The bottom line here is that is have lost six more pounds. I am not at 68 pounds--please do not try to visualize it--so we have had to take a far more aggressive diet.

I would like to tell you I have some interesting stories about it, but I do not. I am drinking protein shakes and muscle maintenance powers mixed in with fruit juice that would make a billy goat gag, but I do not have a choice. There is not much choice. I have nearly lost a third of my ideal body weight. While no medical professional thinks I am in danger of damaging my heart or kidneys yet, there is not a lot of wiggle room left, either.

For the rest of this post, I am going to ramble on about some technical stuff about the mistakes that were made for me to reach this points and the solutions I am currently working. I am a “hits is hits” kind of blogger, and google brings a handful of visitors everyday looking for posts I wrote years ago about my detached retina and diverticulitis. There is bound to be more folks out there dealing with rapid weiht loss who would be interested. Feel free to skip it. You are not missing any thing.

Some big mistakes were made post-surgery largely because I recovered from the burst iverticula so quickly. There was a false sense my general digestive health was just as resilient. In fact, my instructions upon release from the hospital were: Eat. Eat anything. Eat everything. You can’t eat enough. You are severely malnourished. Those instructions would have been fine if I had been as healthy as assumed.

Here are some bullet point issues:
Gatorade is a good idea as a general drink for this kind of recovery, but if it is not matched nearly drop for drop with water, you are wasting your time trying to stay hydrated.
Quit drinking ginger ale, especially if your food intake drops. I started drinking ginger ale when it was the first clear liquid drink given to me once the NV tube was pulled. It is gentle on your stomach for a while, but you soon should switch to something else. I kepy drinking it for weeks. Right before my last hospitalization when my food intake was nearly down to nothing, I would wretch and gag because of nausea, but the only thing coming up was painful carbonation because I kept drinking ginger ale on an empty stomach.
No sweets at all. That includes cereal like Frosted Flakes or donots, which is what I generally ate for breakfast pos-surgery. They do not sit well, and dry you right up. I had some temporary lactose intolerance problems, to boot.
Forget fast food even if it does pack on the pounds.Those are the big mistakes that have landed me in the hospital twice after a month-long stay in the first place. Here are the major points of my course correction:
Drink water until you pee like a race horse. Water is really the only way to stay hydrated period, but especially when you cannot eat.
Cheerios exclusively for breakfast. They are bland, but very healthy, which is why they give them to finicky children to eat. I eat honey nut Cheerois because they do have a little more flavor with the same benefits.
Eat smaller meals to feel less pressure to fill up even when you are not hungry. People not in a similar situation do not seem to undrrstand thay even though I have lost thirty pounds in seven weeks, food is not appetizing to me riht now. I am passed the hunger point.
Drink Ensure. I drink four a day. I have one as a beverage with each meal and one before bed. They are only eight ounces, but have 350 calories each. The strawberry are too icky sweet for more, but I alternate happily between the vanilla and chocolate.
Once a day, mix a muscle maintenance powder into a drink to prevent atrophy. This is the worst thing I have to do these days. I have yet to find a tasty combination.
Broiled, boiled, or baked meat. nothing else. I altnate between ham, turke, and roast beef slices straight from the deli.
Walk around the house twice a day not matter how bad you feel. I am still using a walker because of my weakened leg muscles, but I go anyway in order to et out of bed. Be careful there is always somewhere to sit just in case. If you think you are going to fall, you are.
Use a multivitamin. I have the chewy, Gummy Bear type. Do not laugh. They are packed with what I need.
Pray. A lot. For patience and endurance. I have always been a very thin person not much interested in food. Having to spend so much time on the issue now is an ordeal only people recovering from eating disorders likely understand.
I have pretty much summed up what is going on in my life these days. Prayers and well-wishes are very much appreciated. Hopefully, something I have said might be helpful to someone in return. I shall blog again when I blog again. .

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Pirate Looks at 36 and His Convalescence

Today is my 36th birthday, so I am now officially closer to forty than thirty. Ouch. Speaking of ouch, I could not let the day pass with the annual tradition of posting the above video even if I do have to tough it out in order to make it to the computer these days. Home healthcare is still working with me, but physical therapy and weight gain have mae only slow progress. I may be down more than up overall, but my surgical scar has completely healed, so there is good news.

To those who suggested drinking Ensure, I have been. I was introduced to them during the transition from clear liquids to solid food. They took a while to grow on me--they are like drinking melted ice cream--but I can usually get in one a day as a midnight snack, so I am essentially eating four meals a day on a good day. I remain about twenty pounds underweight.

Since I have been covering the Stargate franchise during 2012, here is a humorous Stargate SG-1 birthday video as a bonus:Thank you for all the continued prayers and well wishes. I will blog again when I can blog again.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

It Has Been a Hellish Five Weeks

It has been a while since I posted that brief note about what is going on with me. Unfortunately, I suffered a relapse that put me back in the ICU. It took a while to et back out of the hospital. I spent a grand total of 24 days hospitalized. Now at home, I am practically bedridden with a home healthcare nurse and physical therapist working with me. Right now, I am sitting in an orthopedic chair that belonged to my brother-in-law’s mother after she broke her hip. It is fully adjustable like a hospital bed, so I an practically law down comfortably while typing away. My story may be full of more typos than usual. My eyesight is not the only problem I am working through right now, but bear with me here.

I suffered a burst diverticula on October 26. A diverticula is a finger-like part of your colon that pushes food and waste along your digestive system. Mine are particularly sensitive because my colon is infected with a highly aggressive form of diverticulitis aggravated by inadvertent steroid use eight years ago. No one knows why it burst. It could have something I ate. It could have been m frequent bowel issues. I could have bumped my belly on the corner that morning. Who knows? What I do know is a burst diverticula is extremely painful and the toxins released into the digestive system cause violent vomiting. I could noy stand up strait or control my barfing. An ambulance took me to the hospital. My five year old nephew thought being hauled through the house and into an ambulance on a stretcher was the neatest thin ever. The lengths I have to go to in order to e the cool uncle.

This was no laughing matter, however. I was experiencing the symptoms of a colon rupture. I had live lived/till live under the prospect of another rupture for over eighth years now. The worst case scenarios are my colon is so ravaged by diverticulitis there is no healthy tissue to create a new colostomy or a peritonitis infecrion sets in and I die within hours. The former is a slow death in which the colon is removed entirely, the small intestine connected to the stomach, and the patient wastes away on a clear liquid diet within weeks assuming infection or other complications do not set in. The latter is a fairly quick, no real fuss poisoning. These are not pleasant thoughts for an ambulance ride or emergency room wait.

Events move quickly under the circumstance. The on call surgeon was by my bedside shortly after the inconclusive, but nasty looking CT scan. He and his practice partners have been treating my various colon relate ailments since the rupture. I have a goo relationship with all three of them, and they are more forthcoming about the reality of things with me because of it. He essentially laid out the previous paragraph with the addition of a possible perforated stomach instead. The bottom line was there were no good scenarios, and the worst were fatal.

I could not help but think this was the end Visions of how it would play out have gnawed at my for the better part of a decade. I have woken up in a cold sweat from too many nightmare scenarios that seemed all too real, and here was finally happening for real. When the anesthesiologist arrived, I asked for a moment to pray beore she started administering the medication. I expected her to give me some privacy, but she stood there and watched. I prayed to myself, “Lord, if you are going to take me, please do it quickly.” When I open my eyes after a silent amen, the anesthesiologist sweetly asked me if I was okay. It is one of the last things I remember before waking up in the IU that night.

The amount of anesthetic induce amnesia after surgery can be a blessing. Sometimes, you are wie awake in the recovery room where the medical personnel who operated on you can answer whatever questions your groggy mind can muster. The downside here is that you are fully awake for that awful moment when four nurses grab a corner of the sheet you are layin on, lift you up by it, drop you unceremoniously on your new bed, an then forcibly roll you from side to side in odrer to get the sheet out from under you. This has never not been an excruciating experience, especially when there is one or two pipsqueak nurses who cannot manage a lift and I wind up half raged into bed. It is not the way to handle a belly full of staples. Sometimes, you wake up already in your room blissfully oblivious to all that. The downside is no one knows anything, so you have to slowly piece things together. Such was the case when I awoke.

I took that first apprehensive assessment. Was I alive? This place sucked too much to be heaven. It was too cold to be hell. Yeah, I must have been alive. Was my colon still there? I did not know, but since I was in the ICU instead of the post-operation floor, something ws up. New colostomy? I could not tell that, either. Fortunately, there is a camera in each ICU room, so my nurse came in the minute she saw me stir. She was not forthcoming with answers. She only told me too e still. Once she flipped on the light, I saw why. I had an NV tube. Drat.

If you have not ha the pleasure, an NV tube runs up your nose, down the back of your throat, and into your stomach. I pumps out the diggestive acids from your empty stomach. The tube carrying the slues to a filter at the head of the bed is always in line of sight, so there is a pleasant, weeklong view. I laid flat on tat be for six freaking days staring at that tube before they finally pulled it out, which was not a fun experience, either. At least I was asleep when they put it in.

The week in ICU is not mercifully a morphine hazed blur. Morphine is great the first couple days, but it is a narcotic and causes ill effects when saturated in your system. I had vivid nightmares, I hallucinated, and heard voices Judas Priest would consider too disturbing to backmask. Being weaned off the stuff was a hard crash.

I suffered a brief pneumonia scare. Two, if you consider bronchial spasms similate the chest tightening and pain down the left arm of a heart attack to the point I swore I was havin one. The main sare is pneumonia is treated with steroids and my diverticulitis forbids it. The medical staff hit it with a massive antibiotic push that worked, but for a time there, we all feared I might become one of those unfortunate souls who still succumbs to pneumonia because I was weak and the best treatment option was not available.

It took seven days from the pulling of the NV tube to go from clear liquids to solid foods. I still was not eating very well when it was decided I would probably do better eating home cooking rather than hospital food. Big mistake. I was home a grand total of four days before I became so sick, I needed an ambulance to again take me to the hospital. This time around, I was treated for anemia and a dilated bile duct. I was down to 72 pounds, so the last ditch effort before a feeding tube was the appetite enhancer given to chemotherapy patients.

It has worked thus far. I am home now, very weak, but unenthusiastically eating three meals a day of some description. I am practically bedridden, but no longer technically sick. My surgery, which turned out to be the simplest problem one could ask for, was a success even though it is the most strenuous health setback I have suffered in years. I spent 24 days hospitalized, more than any time since I was ten an suffered a kidney stone blockage that nearly put an end to me.

That is where we stand. I expect six to eight weeks of tough going before I am back to my old self. I am constantly tired. I can only put on about two or three pounds in a good week. I genuinely look like a Holocaust survivor right now. My oldest niece tried unsuccessful to stifle a horrified gasp when she first saw me. I do not blame her. ,/p> I do not know when I will blog again, but at least now you have a clearer picture why. Prayers and well-wishes are still needed. So is advice on weight and muscle gain, if you have any. Otherwise, I will see you when I see you.